It's the end of an era.
For the 2021 model year, the Mini Cooper Countryman was updated with fresh styling, new trim options, and an upgraded interior with a new standard digital cockpit. At over 13 feet long, the Countryman is the largest model in Mini's current range. Since the Countryman has only just received a mid-cycle facelift, the next-generation model is still a few years away.
When it does enter production, however, it will no longer be produced at the VDL Nedcar plant in the Netherlands, where the current-generation Countryman has been built since 2016. Instead, it will be developed in-house by BMW, with sources citing the change is due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.
In a statement, VDL Nedcar confirmed it has not received a follow-up order for the next Countryman. "This decision is a disappointment for us and our employees at VDL Nedcar who work with great dedication on building fantastic cars," said President & CEO Willem van der Leegte of VDL Groep.
"We have done everything in our power to tie BMW to us with a new follow-up order. Due to the spirit of times, this competition was unfortunately not to be won now. In order to ensure long-term employment in Born, we will intensify the search for the filling in of the free production capacity".
"BMW emphatically states that VDL Nedcar's quality, delivery reliability and competitiveness were not the basis for the decision," the manufacturer said in a statement.
Since opening in 1967, the third-party manufacturer has built cars for DAF, Volvo, Smart, Mitsubishi, and Mini. When operating in two shifts, the factory has a production of over 200,000 cars per year. Exactly when the all-new Mini Countryman will enter production is unknown, but it's safe to assume it will arrive later than planned since the production of the next-generation Mini Cooper has also been delayed because of the pandemic. As a result, Mini is currently working on a surprise second facelift to keep sales strong.